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Teachers Return for New School Year

Monday, September 02, 2013 - 12:05 PM

(Stephen Nessen)

New York City's approximately 75,000 teachers officially go back to work on Tuesday. And while there are big, new initiatives every year, the 2013-2014 school year comes with at least a couple of fundamental changes for school staff. 

First, the new teacher evaluation system now officially takes effect. Teachers will get their first reviews under the new system, based on measures like classroom observations and student performance on state tests, next summer. Implementing the new system means a lot of work for principals and assistant principals, who will be carrying out those observations and keeping up with the required paperwork.

And implementation is anything but straightforward, with each school determining measures of student progress to be counted toward a portion of the teacher's evaluation. This week, many schools will spend their time getting staff on the same page about how, exactly, it will all work.

Plus, there are new teaching materials this year. The majority of the city's schools are adopting new math and English curricula aligned to the Common Core learning standards. We know the standards themselves are fodder for endless debate, not to mention the new tests that came with them in April.

Less than a third of students statewide passed those tests, and teachers return to work on the heels of learning their individual students' scores last week. Here's our question for educators:

How will you use the new information of students' scores, if at all, to make changes in the classroom? We're wondering if the new tests will alter your teaching practice or focus. Please give us your insight, or frustrations, below. 

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Comments [4]

A NYC Teacher

Unfortunately, this system was not designed to improve education. It was designed simply to fire more teachers. Any teachers. Under this system, it is possible for a gym teacher to be deemed ineffective if a group of students that he doesn't even teach fails to reach some arbitrary target on a Math exam. Please explain the value in that. A principal with decades of experience as an educator could rate a teacher effective after an unlimited number of classroom observations, only to be overruled by some junk science data score that is generated by a computer. This is going to be a disaster.

Sep. 04 2013 08:46 PM
justretired from NYC, NY

Just retired. From my perspective the real problem with education is the fear of labeling. No parent wants their child to be associated with being called an underachiever. The system responds with differentiated instruction which internally (in the classroom) does just that. Every student knows who the smart group is. This is a major problem for the teacher. Every lesson has to be so differentiated that a teacher cannot inhale trends, weaknesses or comprehend the steps necessary to give individual instruction to students, which is the goal if differentiated instruction. There is just too much data with so little time in a lesson to configure a plan for so many students. So in order for a teacher to survive, they either have to fake grades or hope the one or two times a supervisor comes in that an act that is required of them is successful. The normal problems of a typical class can't be exposed. Yet this is how a typical class functions. Children learn through mistakes and unusual questions, not choreographed lessons. The pressure on a teacher is so great, that it doesn't make good teachers. It makes lousy actors. A good teacher has personality that creates an atmosphere that makes a child want to learn. The DOE's cookie template teacher is boring!!! That is a major educational mistake.
If it were up to me, I would create schools (starting with middle school) that are labeled A,B and C. Transferring between the schools would be placed on merit, forward or reverse. Parents could petition for their child, but the final decision rests with the school. High Schools are already divided by labeling. By the way, middle schools can accommodate A,B and C in the same school location on different floors.
Teachers should teach homogenous classes, not diversified ones.

Sep. 03 2013 10:27 PM
nuff said

The fiasco created by purposelly moving the bar to fail 75% of all the children in the State will create huge consequences. Already Cuomo is yelling from the rafters to close all failing schools and replace with Charters--but why? They failed the same test.King and Tisch said NO student or Teacher should be affected by the new scores and that is an out and out bald face lie. These scores create accountability in the form of limiting a childs extra activities, classes, and opportunities. They are already being used to once again vilify Teachers. Any Teacher that purposelly failed 75% of his students by retroactively altering test scores would be run out of town on a rail and yet that is exactly what King, Tisch and Cuomo have done. When will parents rebel in a meaningful way? They know that their child that always scored 3's and 4's didn't mysteriously get stupid and is now rated a 1. The know the numbers are wrong and a vicious attack on children. It needs to stop.

Sep. 03 2013 01:12 PM
mg from Ny, Ny

I wish I at least had test scores to reflect over. Unfortunately I teach 9th grade math and will be preparing students to take a test that I am completely unfamiliar with.

Sep. 03 2013 07:00 AM

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